Thursday, June 25, 2009

Roma, a love/hate saga - part one

I am truly lucky to live in Rome. Of all the places in the world, I am so thankful that I can actually call this one my home. That said, from time to time this city can really get a girl down. Here are 5 reasons why today was one of those days.

1. Why bother even trying to keep a decent looking car in this city? Some insane Roman driver is inevitably going to come along and plough into it.

2. Would it REALLY kill them to just put my three items in the bag for me and send me on my merry way?

3. Is that toilet ACTUALLY broken, or are they just too lazy to have to stock it with toilet paper and soap (let alone clean it). I suspect the latter.

4. Hold it right there!! Was I just served a Hot Dog with my 8 Euro aperitivo?? Toss me an olive, a crostino, ANYTHING but a hot dog.

5. Somebody give these kids a double espresso!

Guess what, I feel better already. Back in love with bella Roma and finished whining (at least for today).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer in the City

Judging from the heat in Rome over the last few weeks, the summer is well and truly here. Of course I had noticed the increase in tourists everywhere around Rome which is great as along with the tourists come all the great events and festivals that the Comune di Roma and other organisations put on. A few of these super events which are certainly on my to do list for the summer are the following:
  • Under the Shade of the Collosseum; this is a fantastic setup, they have a great pool here which you pay around 10 euro to access for the whole day... heaven during those hot days in Rome! They are also holding concerts, cabaret, games, cooking shows and my favourite of all Italian things- spettacoli! Which is basically just any kind of show, but throw in a load of glitz, glamour, sequins, a lively sweaty male host and a few scantily clad lady sidekicks, in Italian they are called Veline.
  • The song of the sirens, from Oh Brother where art thou 'Go down to the river to pray' comes to mind when I think of all the goings on down along the Tiber, though you need to change pray to play! First of all there is a beautiful outdoor cinema set up in front of L'Isola Tiberina, which then turns into a cool bar for hanging out with all the film types.
  • Then just all along the riverbanks there are cocktail bars and stalls selling all kinds of magical goods! There are 13 refreshment rooms for every taste, from exotic food to the classic pizza. The website promises a full fun packed itinerary of cultural events throughout the summer, catering for all age groups and interests and the best thing of all its all for FREE!
  • At some stage this summer I hope to get a bit cultural and head to the Baths of Caracalla for an outdoor opera, from what I hear the setting and production are truly amazing.
  • Another great event this summer is Roma vintage, its a pool and party but with a difference its all about nostalgia so it is 70's and 80's themed, so expect games and deco to come from those eras. There is also a children's area and food.
  • Trastevere also has its own mini festival called Noantri Festival, definitely worth checking out if your in Rome during July.

I love that there is so much going on this summer, Rome always has something new up its sleeve! So now I just have to find the time to fit all these events and spettacoli in....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Italians in America (and their peculiar eating habits)

There are some very interesting cultural differences between Italians in Italy and "Italians" in America. Americans of Italian descent will still call themselves Italian, regardless of whether they have ever been to Italy, can speak a word of Italian, or can even pinpoint it on a map.

I have always found the culinary differences between growing up in an Italian family vs. an Italian-American family quite peculiar. First let me give you a bit of background. Dad is a FOB (fresh off boat) Italian living in America. Mom is a third generation Italian, born and bred in the states but still "proud to be Italian".

Now for a closer glimpse at what Sunday dinners were like with the two families, using sample menus to show just how much things change as Italians "Americanize".

Dinner with Paternal Grandparents (Nonni)

Primo: fresh handmade pasta with tomato sauce (never store bought, made with fresh tomatoes when in season. When not in season, made from the jars of tomatoes that were harvested last season and stored for the winter)
Secondo: cotolette di pollo (not to be confused with "chicken parm")
Contorno: steamed artichokes stuffed with bread crumbs, parmigiano reggiano, parsley, and a hint of garlic
Contorno 2: Green salad with sliced fennel, tomatoes, salt, olive oil, and balsamic or white wine vinegar.
Dessert: fresh fruit
finale: espresso

Dinner with Maternal Grandparents (Grandparents):
Appetizer: nothing
Primo/secondo/contorno (that's right, all one one plate at the same time): Spaghetti (cooked about 8 minutes too long) with meatballs, Kraft Parmesan cheese in a green can shaken over said spaghetti, the ribs that were cooked in the "gravy" (aka red lead or tomato sauce), a few slices of scali bread with butter, and a garden salad with creamy Italian dressing.
Dessert: Boston cream pie

What's the bottom line? After first coming to live in Italy, I will admit there was a period where I turned my nose up at Italian food in America (and annoyed the hell out of my family). Then I decided to apply the ever valid saying, "When in Rome...".

Moral of the story? Chicken broccoli ziti may not be Italian whatsoever, but if you manage to not overcook it until it's mush, it's not actually that bad.
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